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Mercier's memo

Here's the memo sent yesterday by OC Transpo chief Alain Mercier to members of the city's Transit Commission. First of all, Mercier is doing the wise thing by admitting this video is what it appears to be, instead of looking for reasons to excuse the driver. Second, Mercier points out that incidents like these, while they grab all the headlines, are exceedingly rare, and that despite what some transit users may believe, OC Transpo does make efforts to prevent this kind of thing.

Dear Chair and Members of the Commission,

As you are aware, a video on Youtube was posted showing the situation of a customer being treated disrespectfully on board an OC Transpo bus with the videographer stating it was the Operator, which is consistent with the images. This incident has been under investigation since it was first brought to our attention.

Firstly, our apologies to the customer and to all customers on the bus. Our entire team of employees do not believe in this type of behaviour, but the reality is that the incident appears genuine. The investigation will be given the utmost attention given the seriousness of the case.

It is of course important that members of the Commission receive full disclosure on our efforts to set positive behaviours for our customers by employees and to assure you that these incidents are rare and do not reflect the norm of daily service to our customers.

Since 2008, several initiatives were launched to direct management efforts to support positive engagement with our customers on board the bus. Some of these initiatives are:

A reduction in employee to supervisory ratio from 400 to 150:1 to permit sufficient oversight of resources, provide mentoring and to build an engaged team.

Introduction of cyclical training on a 36 month basis which includes dealing with difficult customer situations and understanding persons with various types of disabilities to foster compassion and patience. This is the most aggressive program we know of in Canada and features meeting with senior and customer service managers on the importance of public image.

Introduction of Silent Shoppers to facilitate objective coaching of individuals and identify needs for training. This program targets two "shoppings" every 18 months. Again, this is one of the most comprehensive programs of this type in North America.

A performance interview is now scheduled every 18 months with Operators to ensure support and coaching of employees is consistent and, where necessary, additional coaching is scheduled.

A comprehensive communications program on customer compliments are published to all Operators and sample customer testimonials are published monthly to all employees to provide positive reinforcement to team members.

Our current public program of demonstration of employee commitment entitled "People Moving People", highly valued by both customers and employees, was launched to further highlight appropriate behaviour for customers and to seek alignment by all employees to their importance in creating a successful Transit system.

Despite this sad and regrettable incident for our customers, I believe you can have confidence in each employee's choices of behaviour as we continue to enlarge positive customer experiences with new fleet and services.

Regards, Alain Mercier


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